Myanmar: Junta announces military service laws for youngsters

Myanmar’s military junta has announced compulsory military service for all young men and women, according to state media. This move comes as the junta grapples with armed rebel forces seeking greater autonomy across different parts of the country.

The mandate requires men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 to serve for up to two years, while specialists like doctors, up to the age of 45, must serve for three years. The service duration can be extended to a total of five years during the ongoing state of emergency, as declared by state media on Saturday.

The junta’s information team stated that the “People’s Military Service Law” would take effect from February 10, 2024. Myanmar has experienced turmoil since the military’s seizure of power in a 2021 coup, leading to mass protests and a harsh crackdown on dissent.

The junta is currently struggling to suppress widespread armed opposition to its rule, particularly facing challenges from ethnic minority insurgent groups and pro-democracy fighters.

The Tatmadaw, as the military is known, has encountered personnel losses in its efforts to counter a coordinated offensive by insurgent groups since October. The junta’s failure to mount an effective counterattack has reportedly affected morale among lower- and mid-level officers. Analysts suggest that the Tatmadaw is facing recruitment challenges, compelling it to deploy non-combat personnel to the frontline.

Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun emphasized the necessity of a “national military service system involving all people” due to the country’s current situation in an audio message. While a conscription law was enacted in 2010, it had not been enforced until now. Failure to comply with the draft could result in imprisonment for up to five years, as per the legislation. The statement issued on Saturday did not provide specific details but mentioned that the junta’s defense ministry would release further guidelines and instructions. The military’s crackdown on dissent has resulted in over 4,500 deaths and more than 26,000 arrests, according to a local monitoring group.

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